November 4, 2012

Lame: ‘Million Puppet March’ Draws ‘Hundreds’

How lame was Washington’s “Million Puppet March” yesterday? So lame that I couldn’t even find a story about the event at the Associated Press’s national web site.

Planning for the event began several weeks ago after GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in the first presidential debate that despite his love for Sesame Street’s Big Bird he would not advocate further public funding of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Oddly, an unbylined AP story at the Washington Post written sometime earlier this week which was apparently not treated as a national story gave readers the impression that the idea for the march had only come up a few days earlier (posted in full because of its brevity and for fair use and discussion purposes):

‘Million Puppet March’ planned to defend PBS funding at US Capitol 3 days before election

Organizers of a Million Puppet March are announcing their plans for a Washington rally three days before the election to support funding for public broadcasting.

The march of puppets and puppeteers is planned for Saturday. It begins at 10 a.m. at Lincoln Park east of the Capitol. About 600 participants will later march around the Capitol to the Capitol Reflecting Pool.

Organizers say they wanted to respond to Mitt Romney’s plan to eliminate funding for PBS and its shows and characters like Big Bird on “Sesame Street” as a way to reduce the nation’s deficit.

The rally will include entertainment by puppeteers, music, speeches, and a video by the Broadway cast of “Avenue Q.”

Organizers say additional events are planned in New York City, Atlanta, Seattle and elsewhere.

New York City? I didn’t find any specific coverage of a Gotham event, but the idea, given Hurricane Sandy, seems particularly insensitive and out of touch.

Post-event coverage claimed that there was a crowd of “hundreds,” including an item carried at Newser.com:

Modest Million Puppet March Makes Case for Big Bird

It wasn’t nearly a million by the Count’s best standards, but hundreds gamely rallied in support of Big Bird and public funding for PBS in Washington, DC, yesterday with chants of “El-mo, we won’t go!” reports CNN. Many a Kermit, Cookie Monster, and other puppets joined the so-called Million Puppet March to the Reflecting Pool, taking aim at Mitt Romney’s threat to take Big Bird off the public dole. “We’re just making it clear that public media matters and it’s something that we want to see supported and we still want to see federal funding of,” a co-organizer of the march tells the AFP.

Many protesters brought their kids to the event. Said one of PBS: “I grew up on it. It’s a foundation for our children today.” Both PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting carefully held the protest at arm’s length, though the latter released a statement saying, “We appreciate the recent outpouring of support and affirmation for the value of public broadcasting.”

Only one item I found in the relatively sparse coverage mentioned Michael Bellavia. The Washington Post’s Maura Judkis called him “an animation executive.” Bellavia, as I noted in post several weeks ago (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) is “Chief Executive Officer of Animax Entertainment. One of his company’s clients is Sesame Workshop, making him more than just a casual ‘fan’ of Big Bird.”

Also unmentioned in any coverage is how the event, which was originally planned as the “Million Muppet March” complete with a domain name and Facebook page, “somehow” decided to change its name to the obviously less pertinent “Million Puppet March.” Mr. Bellavia clearly thought he could just hijack someone else’s intellectual property and treat it as if it were his own without consequences. Based on the event’s name change, which was pathetically passed off as an effort to include all varieties of puppets, it appears that he was wrong.

If organizers thought they were going to prove that there’s some kind of national groundswell for partial government funding of public broadcasting, much of which could easily survive and in some cases even thrive without any government assistance, they failed miserably.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

UPDATE: Pictures found at Buzzfeed don’t support the organizers’ crowd estimate of 600.

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